Failure of Downtown Vegas Gay Clubs Has Big Ramifications
By Neal Broverman
Krave Massive (pictured) was billed as the largest gay nightclub in the world, but it operated for less than three months before it was shut down by the city of Las Vegas. Its successful sister property, a drag queen-dominated bowling alley and bar, was denied a liquor license and shut its doors this month.
Both Krave Massive and Drink & Drag, the boozy bowling alley/nightclub, were in Neonopolis, an outdoor mall in downtown Vegas. City officials have hoped for years Neonopolis would be a lynchpin of redevelopment in the city center, but businesses in the mall have come and gone. Krave Massive, which opened this summer, was aided by city officials, with incentives and breaks on city permits and licenses. But the promises made by Krave owner Kelly Murphy — they included installing a performance venue, movie theater, cafe, and themed dance rooms in the super-club — never came to pass, likely because of Murphy's financial problems. Now, the Downtown Project, a $350 million endeavor from Zappo's CEO Tony Hsieh, may be trying to buy Krave Massive and relaunch it, but even if that rumor turns out to be true, it would be months before the club reopens.
Meanwhile, Drink & Drag, also owned by Murphy, was also denied a liquor license; the city says Murphy owns the city and state over $700,000 in taxes and fees. Thirty Drink & Drag employees were let go and told they would have to reapply for their jobs — if the bar ever reopens.
With two major retail establishments closed at Neonopolis, can the mall survive? It does house the Heart Attack Grill, which prides itself on serving the greasiest, fattiest foods. The Downtown Project is has lent money to that restaurant, and is a minority partner in a forthcoming brewery. Still, the mall's courtyard often seems empty, even when the gay clubs were in operation. Joe Downtown, a chronicler of downtown Vegas's resurgence, says it may not be the worst thing if Neonopolis meets the fate of so many Vegas landmarks: the wrecking ball.